Digital Drive County Durham has been awarded an additional £2.34m of funding to continue supporting small and medium enterprises across the county until June 2023.
Initially, the programme was a £4m initiative to help SMEs in County Durham maximise their growth potential and sustainability through digital technology.
Since it was established in January 2018 more than 1,000 businesses have registered on the programme and 182 grants have been paid out, totalling almost £700,000.
Companies benefitting from Digital Drive support and funding have included everything from engineering companies to architects, training providers to accountants.
The programme, overseen by Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council, will now be able to support an additional 400 companies to make the most of digital technology with the additional funding for the next three years.
Digital Drive County Durham was established to assist businesses who would like to be more resilient, efficient and profitable by using digital technology to gain a competitive edge and maximise growth.
Each business taking part in the programme will benefit from free business support including digital health checks, masterclasses, workshops and events and be able to apply for access grant funding support of up to 40% towards the cost of digital technology projects.
Sarah Slaven, Business Durham’s interim managing director, said: “We’re delighted to announce we have secured an additional £2.34m of funding for our Digital Drive Country Durham programme.
“We will now be able to support more businesses from across the county to develop their digital capabilities in order to grow and remain competitive.
“It’s fantastic to have been able to support over 400 businesses since the programme was established, both before and during the COVID-19 crisis, when we were able to be flexible enough to provide support quickly for business.
“With the additional funding there is scope for more businesses to tap into the project and find out how digital technology can help them to increase their productivity.
“This is particularly important as the economy moves into the recovery phase as it is vital we continue to support businesses to grow, thrive and create jobs.”
Councillor Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “It is great news that Business Durham has secured this funding to be able to support many more businesses with their digital strategy.
“Having a digital presence as a company is now more important than ever in growing businesses which in turn helps boost our economy and create more jobs in the county.
“This additional funding will be incredibly beneficial to the project, allowing it to reach even more businesses going forward to help them build a competitive advantage.”
Digital Drive County Durham is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Business Durham and private investment.